6 Ways to Be an Even Better Instructor (Part 1 of 2)

Below are some great ideas to think about as you begin or continue your career in the Pilates industry. Not only for new instructors, but also for those who have been teaching Pilates for a while and have watched their client based grow, this first part of a two part series provides some fresh ideas or good reminders that have worked well for those in the Pilates industry.

1)   Follow up
Whether it’s a new client or one you’ve worked with for a long time, it’s a good idea to follow up after the session with either a quick email or text. By asking them how they feel after the workout or congratulating them on completing a particularly challenging routine, you’re reinforcing your commitment to both their workout and your professional relationship with them.

2)   Recollect, recall and KEEP NOTES!
Regardless of how long the client has been working with you, keep an updated file on their progress, injuries and limitations. This not only helps you in making wise workout choices, but it also reflects your professionalism and your attention to the individual. At Studio³ we keep files on each client which hold their workout charts and notes about certain physical issues and goals. It’s not only great for a progressive workout, but it’s the ideal way to communicate to other instructors with whom the client is working with.

3)   Do your own workout
This one cannot be stressed enough. It is the mantra of “practice what you preach” and as a Pilates practitioner, there ought to be a commitment not only to your own Pilates workout, but also to get out and do other activities. Regardless of whether you’re signed up for a spin, yoga or tennis class or taking your dog for a brisk Sunday morning walk, it’s important to commit to a routine and find ways that your knowledge of Pilates can apply to it. All the instructors at Studio³ are committed to doing something “extra-curricular” on a regular basis. And in this way, it not only keeps you fit, it adds some variety to the way you choose to move your body, which can and ultimately always does, transfers to how you teach and educate your clientele.

4)   Know your limits
Recently, one of our clients injured himself in a skiing accident. While thankfully it was a stable fracture, we knew that he would need proper rehab as directed and applied by a qualified physiotherapist. While the exercises and approach to his basic workout was similar to what we do in the Pilates studio, none of our practitioners are qualified to guide clients through an initial rehabilitation program when the injury is in its acute phase.

The point here? As a Pilates practitioner, own what you know, but recognize your limits. There is no way we can be experts on everything there is to know about the physical body. Rather than tread into territory where you’re playing a guessing game as to what’s appropriate, establish a referral program between you and a fitness rehabilitation team that you trust and respect.

5)   Do one thing really, really well
Okay – maybe in this industry, we can expand this to do a few things really well. After all, there are many who crossover their Pilates into yoga, dance or personal training. Continually educating yourself is key to longevity in this industry (both as an instructor and retaining a clientele). Therefore, it’s wise to draw from other sources to enhance and broaden your understanding of the one or two modalities of which you have extensive knowledge. But instead of stretching yourself over many different approaches to fitness, why not go deeper with the one or two types of fitness that you enjoy and with which you’ve started to establish a clientele?

6)   Take the initiative with other practitioners
Quite often, a client may decide to commit to two or more sessions a week. Sometimes, the best way to keep it interesting for them as well as for you to stay fresh with programming ideas and variety is to offer them the opportunity to work with another instructor. Not always possible or ideal. But by having your clients work out with another instructor you are giving them an opportunity to experience the Pilates with different cues and programming and to appreciate what you bring to their workouts.

Now, a lot of instructors might balk at this, as it risks losing a client or at the very least a working hour. But, I believe there are more advantages to this then the concern of losing an hour.

First, if it is an instructor that you know and trust, you open the door to establishing a strong business relationship. As mentioned above this not only keeps the workouts varied for the client, but it also makes you more available to take on new clients.

Taking on new clients and having a weekly schedule of as many different clients as possible is essential to keeping a relatively steady income. This is the second reason why working with other practitioners might be a good business decision. Because, if your income is based on let’s say, nine or ten clients you see two or three times per week, it undoubtedly will suffer when two or three of those persons decide to take vacation, head north for the summer or have family obligations that take precedence. Something to think about as you build and maintain your client base.

In our next blog we’ll continue on with other points and tips of how to be a better instructor! Stay tuned and thanks for your interest!